Thursday 21 November 2019

FÁS bosses avoid legal action over wives' foreign trips

Former FAS chief Rody Molloy
Former FAS chief Rody Molloy
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

FORMER executives at the defunct State training agency FÁS will not face any legal action over the use of taxpayers' money to bring their wives on expensive foreign trips.

Ex director general Rody Molloy and former assistant director general Gerry Pyke were asked to return almost €30,000 in spousal travel costs, but just €3,371 has been given back to date.

SOLAS, one of the agencies which took over FÁS's functions, said that after taking legal advice on the issue it did not believe it would have any prospect of successful legal recourse.

A review of the foreign trips by the Department of Education stated Mr Molloy has claimed his wife Noreen was invited to attend functions she travelled to and was in fact representing FÁS. Mr Molloy also insisted no regulations were breached.

The report said travel by Mr Pyke's wife Sheila was retrospectively approved by Mr Molloy.

However, the department concluded that the spousal travel costs were not an appropriate charge on the State.

In a letter to the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee, SOLAS chief executive Paul O'Toole said it had been in contact with both men on a number of occasions since October 2013.

He said that since then €2,547 had been secured voluntarily from one of the former executives, but no further amounts were forthcoming.

The sum paid back was in addition to previous refunds totalling €823 made by Mr Molloy and Mr Pyke.

The trips at the centre of the controversy took place between 2002 and 2008.

Travel undertaken by Mr Molloy and his wife in that period included several trips to the US, as well as visits to Japan and Belgium.

They included a visit to NASA in Orlando as part of FÁS's Science Challenge project in 2006 and the World Skills competition in Tokyo in 2007.

Mr Molloy's travel costs amounted to €22,724, while his wife's were €19,465.

Mr Pyke and his wife travelled to events in the US, Finland, the UK and Japan in the same period. Mr Pyke's travel costs were €9,861, while his wife's were the same amount.

Irish Independent

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